Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Joe Kernan: GAA have pitched it right over trophy presentations

Dignified: The presentation of the Liam McCarthy Cup to Tipperary last Sunday
Dignified: The presentation of the Liam McCarthy Cup to Tipperary last Sunday

There has been a mixed reaction to the erection of the 10-foot high fencing at the Hill 16 end of Croke Park which is primarily designed to prevent spectators from encroaching onto the playing arena at the end of games.

The traditionalist view is that denying fans access to the pitch takes away from the spectacle, colour and pageantry of all Ireland finals.

But I must say that I find it difficult to concur with this sentiment. Not only was the presentation of the Liam McCarthy Cup to Tipperary last Sunday a dignified ceremony but the team’s subsequent lap of honour was acclaimed by friend and foe alike, the Kilkenny team sportingly awaiting the end of the ceremony before heading for the tunnel.

While many people still believe that the GAA is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut given that it is understood there is no formal record of any casualties having been confirmed during post-match pitch invasions in the past, nevertheless players themselves, I understand, will be happy to take comfort among themselves.

For the victors, there is the opportunity to bond more in celebration while the vanquished can lick their wounds unencumbered by well-meaning but intrusive followers.

The notion that the trophy presentation ceremony has now become rather aloof and perhaps even remote does not quite hold substance as many people can view it in comparative comfort rather than being part of a mammoth gathering on the pitch.

It was noticeable too that thousands of fans turned out in Thurles on Monday night to enthusiastically welcome home the Tipp team so they certainly had their chance to fete their heroes.

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